The Fault in our Bridge

“Walang kwenta.” “Hindi pinag-isipan.” “Kalokohan.” “Sayang… sayang pera.” “Sana sa ibang project na lang.” “Nakakainis.” “Bakit ba sila naglagay n’un?” “Kailangan ba n’yan?” “Seryoso? Eh wala pa nga sa sampung metro ‘yung tatawirin ng mga estudyante eh.”

These are just some of the reactions of UE Caloocan students when asked about their thoughts with regards to the footbridge built adjacent to UE’s main gate. Even during its construction, the said footbridge has been receiving tirade from the pedestrians of Samson road.

Who wouldn’t be caught its presence? Even those who are new to the place, they will immediately see what’s wrong in the footbridge. Whether the purpose of the project is to ensure the safety of the pedestrians and perhaps to control the traffic, people couldn’t help themselves but to question why, bash the project and also the people behind that leading to the conclusion that maybe, the footbridge isn’t really for the people but for the local government officials or whoever it is that are involve to get something from the people.

Pedestrian’s Struggles

Every day, students of UE Caloocan have to deal with their daily struggles when it comes to going to school, going home from school, and even just going elsewhere. Students coming from both the direction of Sangandaan and Monumento usually caught in between of heavy traffic.

Gerald Mae Guerrero, 4th year AB Communication student of the university, who’s house is lying just a jeep away from UE Caloocan, took her almost an hour to travel home to school and the other way around which causes her to be late almost every day on her first class. “Struggle ko is ‘yung traffic talaga sa Sangandaan. Pagkagising ko, okay namn ‘yung gising ko eh, tapos ‘yung pag-alis ko? Okay rin. Ang problema, dito sa… ‘Yung pang-5 minutes na distance nagiging 30 minutes. ‘Yun d’un ako nas-strand. ‘Yung Sangandaan nas-stuck lang ako d’un ng mga 20 minutes siguro saka pa lang ko makakapunta sa UE.”

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Just like Gerald, Rica Mae Isidro, 4th year AB Communication student at the same university, one of her struggle in going to school is facing the traffic and it really is testing her patience. “Ang ordinaryong byahe ko is 15 minutes mula sa bahay namin papunta dito sa UE pero minsan umaabot ng 30-40 minutes.”

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Aeron Abraham also shares the same story. Aeron, 4th year AB Communication student in UE Caloocan, travels every day all the way from Bocaue, Bulacan. “Syempre unang-una na d’yan is ‘yung traffic so kailangan maaga ka gumising in order to avoid traffic or para mas maaga ka makapunta d’un sa lugar na pupuntahan mo. Actually, ang byahe ko naman, hindi naman ako sa McArthur dumadaan so sa NLEX and sa NLEX hindi naman gan’un ka traffic pero once na and’un ka na sa may bandang Camatchile in which 30-45 minutes kang na-stuck d’un sa traffic.”

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Also, the students, faculty members, and university staffs not just of UE Caloocan but also those from AMA and STI, as well as the other pedestrians have to play patintero with jeepneys, private cars, and huge trucks to cross the street which is quite dangerous. To think that other vehicles, despite of the warning lights and signage to slow down and that they’re going to enter a school zone area, refrain in doing so.

The Fault Footbridge

Last July 7, 2016, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) identified several traffic choke points in Metro Manila namely Balintawak Market Road, Aurora Boulevard, Ortigas Avenue, Shaw Boulevard, Guadalupe, Ayala Avenue and Taft Avenue and in Northern Metro Manila, Rizal Avenue, Samson Road, Gen. Malvar Street, MacArthur Highway, Karuhatan Road, Gen. De Leon, Pio Valenzuela and Gen. De Jesus are the major victims of traffic. (Read more about the news here.)

We all know that University of the East – Caloocan is located at a very busy road named Samson which is considered as one of the traffic choke point in Northern Metro Manila and over 6 thousand pedestrians are passing through the road every day. Aside from preventing heavy traffic, according to Director Neomi Recio of the Traffic Engineer Center of MMDA, they’ve conducted a study around the area. “Marami kasing school sa area na yon. kapag labasan at pasukan, sobrang dami ng tumatawid na estudyante and mataas ‘yung rate ng aksidente,” said the Director in her interview at Investigative Documentaries. With these, MMDA came up with the design and construction project of pedestrian footbridge along Samson Road near UE which started last September 14, 2015.

The said project amounts to 8.3 million pesos or 8,308,301.66 pesos to be specific, awarded to the lone qualified bidder, All Asia Structures Construction Services Inc., subject to the submission of the Performance of Security as to the result of public bidding conducted last May 12, 2015. This was approved by the MMDA Chairman Atty. Francis N. Tolentino and received by the Authorized Managing Officer, Joselito T. Lopez. In the contract, it is stated that by February 2016, the footbridge should be finished already therefore, its construction was almost 6 months delayed prior to the signed agreement. (Click here to check for MMDA’s Transparent Governance.)

“Actually, while ongoing pa lang ‘yung project na ‘yan, madalas tuwing nakikita ko ‘yang parang ano, iniinis, kinukutya, “Ay! Napakabobo naman ng nagpagawa n’yan”. Parang nasabi ko, “May mga estudyante kayang aakyat d’yan?” Kasi saglit na lang ‘yung tatawirin mo tapos aakyat ka pa, may pupuntahan ka pang kung ano ano, ang hirap, pagod tapos, my God, diba?” – Aeron

“Actually, ‘nung una parang sabi ko, “Bakit s’ya napagawa?” Kasi talagang konti lang ‘yung lalakarin mo eh tapos ‘yung ano… okay lang sana kung tuturuan nila tayo ng disiplina pero sana kung magpapagawa sila ng gan’un, siguraduhin naman nila na may magbabantay. ‘Yung may mga magmumulta talaga tsaka may mga susuway sa mga tao sa mga hindi tumatawid d’un sa tamang tawiran.” – Rica

“Ang masasabi ko sa ginawang overpass sa UE is… walang kwenta kasi ti-nry ko s’ya. Ti-nry ko dumaan kasi tinignan ko muna kung may sense ‘yung project, so dumaan ako. Na-late lang ako. Parang inabot ako ng ilang minutes sa pag-akyat at pagbaba d’un.” “Kaya s’ya walang kwenta kasi ang konti na lang eh. Eto, ‘yung jeep, kapag bumaba ako, siguro mga 10 steps, nandyan na ako sa UE. So kapag pumanik pa ako, bababa pa. Kain oras.” – Gerald

But is building a footbridge across a less than 12 meter crossing really the solution? Are the pedestrians the one who cause the traffic? Will their safety be ensured when they climbed up the footbridge? Or the footbridge too much for the said reasons? Imagining the budget used and provided plus the time and effort exerted? That could’ve been better than that.

 It could’ve been used into something more productive and effective project like likelihood programs for the poor, additional school supplies to public elementary and high schools, or equipment to the hospitals, perhaps wheelchairs for the disabled.

Not an Isolated Case

The case of the footbridge along Samson road is not the only case in Caloocan, CAMANAVA, the whole Metro Manila, nor the Philippines. There are a lot of road projects by the government which have either started but not finished or finished but seem to be useless due to error in the construction or design.

In one of the episodes of Investigative Documentaries by GMA News and Public Affairs entitle “Tengga” which aired last June 16, they feature some of the works of the government wherein instead of giving comfort and convenience to people, it bothers them even more.

Just like the footbridge built in Barangay Anabu in Imus Cavite wherein people don’t know how they will going to use the bridge for there’s an electric post obstructing in their way. This is a P14 million project by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and clearly, it’s a P14 million waste.

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The Blumentritt Interceptor Catchment Area which aims to minimize the flooding in some area of Manila. It has been started since March 2013 but up until now, the project is not yet done and the residents has been running out of patience and can’t stand the smell of the open sewer.

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And the inconvenience brought about by the construction of the bridge in Siniloan, Laguna to jeepney drivers who needs to change their route because of this. The alternative route is a lot farther than the original one which means additional expense to crude and more time to travel. This bridge was supposed to be finished last July 2014 but up until April 2015, still no use.

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The above examples are just some of the cases with regards to this matter. It is undeniable that there are government projects that aren’t that useful after being financed. The problem is, there is no one to guard, or at least check these projects after its construction to make sure that people are able to use it and maximize its utility.

Reasons Covering Corruption

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“Masasabi natin na siguro meron ding hidden intention. May hidden agenda din ‘yung nagpagawa n’yan kung bakit.. kasi kung tutuusin mo maraming ibang bagay na dapat pagtuunan ng pansin pero hindi naman s’ya gan’un ka-importante pero naipagawa s’ya o nailagay s’ya d’on.” – Aeron

“In my opinion ha? Kasi in every project kasi may corruption. Siguro una sa lahat ‘yung corruption. Pangalawa ‘yung, kaya nagkaroon ng ganyang klaseng project. Ano, may masabi na lang na may nagawa. Diba? Parang di naman pinag isipan ‘yun.” – Gerald

“Lagi namang traffic dyan, paano ka makakasagasa eh ang bagal bagal naman ng daloy ng trapiko d’un. Feeling ko kasi parang sa budget nila kinukuha. Mga corrupt na pulitiko, sa mga engineer rin na namamahala d’yan, gan’un.” – Rica

There are actually a number of reasons why the traffic is heavy all the time. The population of people who owns and drives a car, the volume of people who take public transportation vehicles every day, the mass who buy cars even if they’ve got no parking lot who then turn roads as their own, driver and commuter’s lack of discipline, unconformed traffic lights and signage, and repetitive construction of unbroken roads are the firsts in the list.

Instead of putting up a footbridge, why not just add another pedestrian lane just like the one that is not so far from the footbridge? Then hire a traffic enforcer who will manage. In that way, they will be able to give someone a source of income. Traffic is everywhere. And you really cannot resolve the issues about heavy traffic in putting a footbridge for students to cross on over a not more than 15 meters distance. And if its safety that it’s really all about, isn’t a pedestrian lane and a traffic enforcer plus other police officer wouldn’t be enough to keep the pedestrians safe and sound?

Where’s the Pedestrians?

Now that the footbridge is open to use, pedestrians, most especially students, still don’t use the footbridge to cross the street. Even if there’s a tarpaulin that says “BAWAL TUMAWID DITO, GAMITIN ANG BAGONG TULAY TAWIRAN”, “MULTA: (JAYWALKING) P500.00 AT COMMUNITY SERVICE”, “SUMUNOD SA TAMAN TAWIRAN PARA IWAS DISGRASYA”, and “BABALA: WALANG TAWIRAN DITO, NAKAMAMATAY”, you can still see them playing patintero with cars and other vehicles. Why not? Aside from its fun to play patintero, it’s easier to cross the street that way.

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“Sabi lang naman kasi na may multa pero ang totoo naman is wala naman sila nahuhuli. Kahit talagang may mga traffic enforcer d’yan, hindi naman sila nanghuhuli. Nakikita naman nila ‘yung estudyante o kaya kahit sino na tumatawid d’yan.” – Rica

“Una kasi ‘yung implementation, mali. Tawid nga ako ng tawi, wala namang humuhuli. Hindi nga ako nakukuhanan ng penalty. Tapos syempre ‘yung tao, tatawid na lang sila. Wala naman kasing nagreregulate eh. Hindi sila dadaan d’un kasi wala naming nagreregulate. ‘Yun talaga ‘yun.” – Gerald

“Actually kung bakit walang gumagamit n’un kasi napakabobo naman talaga ng pagkakagawa kasi ano bang magpipiliin ng mga estudyante or ng dadaan ‘yung aakyat pa sila at maglalakad ng malayo or saglit na tawiran na lang. Well, in fact, hindi naman gan’un kahirap tumawid d’yan dahil madalas ng traffic so para saan pa’t aakyat ka d’un? Magpapagod ka. Magpapaka-hassle ka pa. Diba? Parang ang tanga lang kung aakyat ka pa d’un sa foot bridge.” – Aeron

What now?

Since the footbridge is already there, we can do nothing about its construction. Instead, we can take part in giving it a sense of existence. For it’s not all about our governments responsibility to serve its people. Our duty to submit to our government also counts.

fernandez-girlie

About the Author

Fernandez, Girlie Anne D.

She is just a simple Communication Major student who loves to eat while studying. Being an only child, she treats her dogs as her siblings. She is a consistent achiever, is never contented, and always asks for more. She likes competition and her insecurities motivate her. She loves the idea of being in love and believes that nobody is perfect until you fall in love with them.

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